Protein and pregnancy

Protein needs are higher during pregnancy and when breastfeeding. When do you need more and how do you get it?

In the first trimester of pregnancy there is no need for more protein but during the second and third trimesters protein needs increase to support the growth of tissues of both mother and baby.

The recommendation is for 1g of protein per kilogram of body weight (g/kg) per day.

During breastfeeding the recommended dietary intake (RDI) is higher in order to ensure conservation of the mother's protein and equates to 1.1 g/kg protein per day.

Even though the recommended protein levels are higher than for non-pregnant women, research has shown that pregnant women in New Zealand are already consuming sufficient protein to meet these requirements.

High-protein diets, or the use of protein supplements or powders, are not advised at any stage of pregnancy as this could have a negative effect on the baby's birth weight.

First published: Oct 2006

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